An African safari in Zambia is a once-in-a-lifetime experience in a relatively undiscovered country. Wake up to the sounds of wildlife, and in the evening, explore the bush on the back of an open vehicle as the sun falls below the horizon. In Zambia, you can enjoy Big Five safaris and opportunities to see the endangered white rhino in an unspoiled part of Africa.
Spot giraffe, zebras, hippos, and wildebeest roaming peacefully in largely untouched game reserves like the Kafue National Park. To spot the Big Five, head to Mosi Oa Tunya National Park for an exhilarating 4×4 game drive.
Zambia’s best luxury safari lodges include Chindeni Bushcamp, David Livingstone Safari Lodge & Spa, Nkwali Lodge, Sausage Tree Camp, Shumba Camp Kafue National Park, Stanley Safari Lodge, The River Club on the Zambezi River, Toka Leya Camp, Tongabezi Safari Lodge, and Zungulila.
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1. The River Club, Zambezi River
The River Club is a charming oasis on Zambia’s magnificent Zambezi River, situated 18km upstream from the town of Livingstone and the renowned Victoria Falls World Heritage Site and one of the 7 Natural Wonders of the World.
This boutique, owner-run luxury lodge is Livingstone’s premier destination on the Zambezi River, offering genuine hospitality, commitment to the local community, total peace and tranquillity, and the opportunity to create amazing lasting memories.
The Club features eleven spacious and private elevated suites nestled in the trees, overlooking the mighty river with its pods of hippos lazing about in the sunshine on the edge of the Zambezi National Park. The River Club is a fantastic destination for honeymooners, those on a safari circuit, and families with children six and up, offering spacious family accommodation and extensive gardens to explore. A host of activities await young and old on the property as well as around Victoria Falls.
The River Club boasts a beautiful infinity pool where you can relax with something chilled, the elegant main verandah with stunning views of abundant wildlife, an Edwardian dining area servicing exquisite cuisine, a games room to chill out in, or why not sip sundowners on an evening cruise following an afternoon game of tennis or read a book on your private deck with truly unrivaled views.
2. Tongabezi Safari Lodge, Zambezi River
If you are looking for a magical safari location with beautiful lodgings featuring sliding glass doors, and like the idea of falling asleep to the sounds of an African river, including hippo grunts, you can’t get much better than Tongabezi Safari Lodge.
Tongabezi Lodge is a romantic safari hideaway on the banks of the Zambezi River just upstream of Victoria Falls. There are six premium Houses with luxurious king beds swathed in mosquito netting, four with sliding doors that guests can choose to leave entirely open, a Tree House that is open to the river, and a Garden House that faces onto a private walled garden. Large verandah-styled decks overlook the Zambezi River. The bathrooms have large walk-in showers, a vanity with two sinks, and fabulous claw-footed baths offering great Zambezi River views.
The reception and gift shop sit in the upper area of the Safari Lodge grounds. Lower down the path and just above the river, you will find the dining area, a small bar, and a lounge area. These sections are all entirely open to a large two-tiered deck jutting above the river bank. The upper tier contains the fire pit for evening sundowners and the lower tier tables for dining. The swimming pool is located slightly further downriver. For dinner, guests are usually directed to the upper deck for drinks and conversation around the fire pit. If you don’t want the company, you can ask to be shown directly to a table. You can dine indoors or outside on the deck overlooking the river. The deck is lit along the edges with lanterns, truly magical.
Take a river cruise to visit the sandy islands, hippos, and crocodiles of the Zambezi River, or try an Ultralite or helicopter flight over the falls and visits to the famous Livingstone Island, where guests can swim to the edge of the Falls.
3. Stanley Safari Lodge, Zambezi River
Wake up to a warm breeze, the distant roar of lions, and a symphony of birds. Step out onto your very own verandah and down to the infinity pool, where you can gaze at the spray from the nearby Victoria Falls. If this sounds appealing, then a few days at the Stanley Safari Lodge might be just what you are looking for.
Set on a hill bordering the Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park and overlooking the unspoiled bush, Stanley Safari Lodge is only three kilometers from Victoria Falls. The main lodge area is an oasis of calm. The views from the main tropical garden, the infinity pool, and from the privacy of your room are spectacular.
The suites are individual cabins set on beautifully landscaped grounds. These ten uniquely designed chalets are constructed of teak and local stone and are open-fronted or are designed in colonial style with brick and tiled rooms that are closed. Each unit is a bit different and very spacious with big comfy beds, well-appointed baths, even adaptors, and hair dryers.
The staff are incredibly attentive and genuinely friendly, with great attention to detail. Everything comes with a big Zambian smile! The fantastic dining can be taken in the open lodge or in the garden by candlelight. Food is both excellent and varied. The highlight is that the staff often seat you in different areas to eat. Each area has its own charm, and each area is terribly beautiful.
Take a guided tour of the Victoria Falls, a game drive, or just laze by the pool and marvel at the views and the mist from Victoria Falls in the distance. If you laze for long enough, the wildlife just might come and find you!
4. David Livingstone Safari Lodge and Spa, Mosi-Oa-Tunya National Park
The David Livingstone Safari Lodge is situated in Livingstone in Zambia. The lodge is set inside Mosi-Oa-Tunya National Park, home to a wide variety of wildlife, including elephants, rhinos, buffalo, giraffe, and baboons. The lodge has 77 en-suite rooms and a lovely pool. It is larger than some of the more boutique camps featured in this review. Most rooms look out over the mighty Zambezi River, and all guests have a private balcony where they can enjoy a leisurely sundowner while taking in the view. It’s worth noting that the rooms further from the reception and restaurant are quieter and rooms on the second floor have better views.
There are several dining options at The David Livingstone Safari Lodge. A favorite is The Pool Deck and Gwembe Terrace, which overlooks the river and provides an authentic gastronomic experience in a relaxed and casual atmosphere, perfect for sitting back and enjoying a magnificent African sunset while sipping on a cocktail.
The lodge has an onsite Gym and Award-Winning Spa & Wellness Centre and was voted Best Safari Spa in Africa and was featured in Conde Nast Johansens’ 2015 Collection. The Spa has breathtaking, panoramic views of Zambezi River and Victoria Falls and offers treatments including intensive sports massages, mud wraps, facials, and manicures.
Activities that are available to guests include bungee jumping, white water rafting, abseiling; bird and game watching; fishing; game drives; walking, horse riding, or elephant-back safaris, walking with lions as well as visits to local craft markets and tours to the Victoria Falls. A stay at the lodge wouldn’t be complete without a sunset cruise on The Lady Livingstone, a forty-four-seat, three-deck river cruiser perfect for relaxing with a few drinks while spotting elephants, hippos, and crocodiles on the Zambezi.
5. Toka Leya Camp, Zambezi River
Toka Leya Camp has just twelve climate-controlled ensuite tents along the Zambezi River, and is just a few kilometers from the famous Victoria Falls. Wooden walkways join the camp’s rooms, and you can enjoy a dining room, lounge, bar, several decks, and an infinity pool, all overlooking the Zambezi. Wildlife on the Zambezi includes birds, elephants, and hippos.
While staying, you can enjoy game drives into the Mosi-oa-Tunya Park to spot buffalo, giraffe, zebra, wildebeest, and impala. White rhinos were reintroduced into the park, and the occasional predator may also be seen. Plus there is a rich birdlife in the park.
6. Shumba, Kafue National Park
Shumba is situated in the northern region of the massive Kafue National Park, in the famed Busanga Plains area and is named after the prides of lion found in the area.
This camp is located on a wooded island in the center of the million-hectare Busanga Plains. These plains are home to hundreds of red lechwe, puku, and other game and their predators. Fig trees shade the decks of the camp, and while you relax in the shade, you will be able to spot some exciting wildlife. The permanent watering hole attracts large prides of lions.
This is a boutique camp with a great pool and just six safari tents situated on raised platforms and include en-suite bathroom facilities and outside showers. All tents offer impressive views across the plains. The communal areas offer Zambian hospitality, sumptuous dining, a gorgeous pool, fireside tales, and stargazing in the skies above.
Take a game drive during the day to spot buffalo, wildebeest, and even cheetahs and lions. Night drives make it possible to spot nocturnal species like owls and leopards. When the plains are flooded, you can also enjoy boating and catch-and-release fishing and birdlife, with over 491 species, including kingfishers, heron, and storks.
7. Nkwali Lodge, South Luangwa National Park
Nkwali Lodge is situated in South Luangwa National Park. The Luangwa Valley is vast, remote, and home to both people and an awe-inspiring variety of game.
Nkwali safari lodges are located on the banks of the Luangwa on a magnificent meander in the river, overlooking the National Park where leopards roam along the bank and can often be spotted from camp. Situated on Robin Pope Safaris’ private land outside the park, there is a private game viewing area behind the camp as well as exclusive access into the park either by boat or across the pontoon.
The area surrounding Nkwali is a superb game viewing country, with a beautiful area of ebony woodland and open grasslands. You often see as much behind camp as in the park, including leopard, lion, and occasionally wild dog. This area is particularly suitable for elephants and Thornicroft giraffe (an endemic species). Elephants also regularly cross the Luangwa, seen from the bar, or come to the waterhole near the thatched dining room.
The Nkwali chalets are large, fresh, and spacious, with a great view of the river. The six chalets with bamboo woven walls and thatch roofs offer rustic luxury, opening up to magnificent views of the river as well as open-air en-suite bathrooms. The ensuite bathroom has double sinks and showers open to the skies during the dry season. The bar area, right on the edge of the Luangwa banks, is built around a huge ebony tree with fantastic views of the river and across to the park.
8. Chindeni Bushcamp, South Luangwa National Park
If you want to experience an ‘authentic’ Zambia safari, Chindeni Bushcamp is a seasonal safari camp with canvas-walled tents and raised wooden decked floors. It can be found in a desirable location in the South Luangwa National Park in Zambia, on the edge of a lagoon where hippo chortle and elephant wallow. This is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful tented camps in South Luangwa.
There’s something about sleeping under canvas that ignites a sense of adventure in everyone. At Chindeni, you can combine that thrill with style and comfort in one of its four opulent tents. Gaze out from your private veranda onto the lagoon, which attracts birds and animals from miles around. Or settle back with a gin-and-tonic in the multi-level varnish decked central lounge and dining area, surrounded by ebony trees and boasting the same spectacular view of the serene lagoon and its inhabitants.
9. Zungulila, South Luangwa National Park
Zungulila is even more remote than Chindeni which we reviewed above. It is one of Africa’s top private safari camps and certainly one of Zambia’s most luxurious and sought-after lodges.
Zungulila is a charming camp that embodies the essence of old Africa and a bygone era, with breathtaking views onto the Kapamba river and an expansive plain where natural springs attract vast herds of game. Zungulila is eminently peaceful, and you may be tempted to stay forever!
10. Sausage Tree Camp, Lower Zambezi
Sausage Tree Camp will give you one of the best luxury lodge or camp experiences in Zambia’s wild Lower Zambezi. Sausage Tree camp is the epitome of bush chic, offering a civilized approach to a true bush experience with lavish attention to detail.
The huge tents have white roofs to keep the heat out or in and extraordinary views of the Zambezi with its elephant grass islands. Elephants will often use the path by your luxury tent to get down into the river, and Hippos paddle in front of the lodge and the swimming pool.
Sausage Tree Camp offers some of the most exceptional game viewing in natural habitats anywhere in Africa. Its location within the Lower Zambezi National Park on the banks of the Zambezi River means that game viewing activities take place both on the water, by boat and canoes, and on the land by four-wheel drive game viewing vehicles or on foot (bush walks). The camp is well equipped with game viewing vehicles, boats, and canoes, offering many different ways to discover the wildlife surrounding this luxury camp.
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